Tennessee’s state parks reopened to day visitors on May 1. These five are an easy drive from Knoxville. Go enjoy the outdoors, but please maintain a safe distance from other visitors.
1. Seven Islands State Birding Park, Kodak. More than 190 species of birds have been sighted at this 416-acre park along the French Broad River approximately 19 miles east of Knoxville. Includes 8 miles of trails and a small canoe/kayak launch.
2. Big Ridge State Park, Maynardville. This heavily forested 3,687-acre park includes remnants of old roadbeds and early settlements. Fifteen miles of hiking trails range from easy to very rugged.
3. Norris Dam State Park, Rocky Top. Water sports rule at Norris Dam, which features more than 800 miles of shoreline in the 4,000-acre park. A fully equipped marina with boat ramp is open to the public, and houseboats and pontoons are available for rent. Not into water? It has 21 miles of trails and the Lenoir Museum’s collection of artifacts depicting life in Southern Appalachia over thousands of years.
4. Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, Vonore. Fort Loudoun was built in 1756 as one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier. It was reconstructed during the Great Depression and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Its interpretive center offers info on the history and artifacts excavated there. An 18th Century Trade Faire is held in October.
5. Panther Creek State Park, Morristown. This 1,444-acre park west of Morristown was an area where pioneers settled around 1785 and where Cherokee Indians lived prior to their arrival. Includes 30 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of mountain biking trails.